Uk government orders review of biofuels
by Rachel Thomas
February 21, 2008
The UK government today ordered a review of the environmental and economic damage caused by growing biofuels.
Resulting from a number of studies undertaken lately that query the environmental advantages of biofuels, ministers wish to check that the UK and European biofuel targets will be beneficial; meaning that they solve more problems than they cause.
Despite ordering the review, ministers are continuing with plans to make biofuels make up 2.5% of transport fuel as of April.
Transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, spoke of the seriousness of the issue for the UK government.
She announced that the results of the review would ensure that the full economic and environmental impacts of biofuels would influence the formation of UK policy from 2010.
The study is to be taken on by the new Renewable Fuels Agency and is set to report by early summer.
The venture was readily welcomed by environmentalists. Yet campaigners believed that no biofuels should be used in the UK until the review was completed.
The executive director of Greenpeace, John Sauven, discussed the fact that as a result of mounting scientific evidence there is a clear message that biofuels are often more damaging to the environment than the fossil fuels they have been designed to replace.
He went on to state that the government should suspend any development on deciding UK biofuel targets altogether until the review has been published.
Head of countryside conservation at the RSPB, Dr Sue Armstrong, has acknowledged that whilst the review indicates a small level of progress, it completely sidesteps the inadequacy of governmental biofuel policy.
She spoke of the fact that although fuel companies are required to give details of their production methods there is no legal obligation to ensure biofuels are produced sustainably.
Biofuels, made from crops including sugar and corn, are currently promoted as environmentally safe as a result of the fact that the carbon emitted when burnt was absorbed by the plants when growing.
However research has indicated that biofuel production can cause more indirect environmental effects. In addition research demonstrates that growing and processing crops in some countries can actually release more greenhouse gas than is saved.
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